FILE PHOTO: A woman holds a medical syringe and a small bottle labelled "Coronavirus COVID-19 Vaccine

FILE PHOTO: A woman holds a small bottle labelled with a "Coronavirus COVID-19 Vaccine" sticker and a medical syringe in this illustration taken October 30, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/File Photo

Colorado and federal officials hailed Tuesday the final approval of vaccines for 5-to-11 year olds. The green light represents the first new expansion of vaccine eligibility since teenagers were given the go-ahead in late spring, and health officials have praised the latest move as a way to protect children and keep them in school.

Here's what you need to know about the vaccine and children.

Where does the approval process stand as of Nov. 3?

A federal advisory panel recommended approval for the Pfizer pediatric last week, another group gave the green light this week, and the CDC gave the final sign-off Tuesday. The vaccine has started shipping, and some states have already started vaccinating kids.

Colorado officials said last week that doses have already started shipping as of the weekend and that does could begin being administered to children by Nov. 5.

What's the difference between this dose and adult jabs?

The Pfizer pediatric vaccine that's likely to be approved is a third of the strength given to adults. It still requires two doses, set three weeks apart. Clinical studies, including some undertaken in Colorado, show the kids' doses are highly effective at preventing both infection and severe disease and that they are safe.

Other than the difference in dose, it is the same vaccine for children as it is for adults.

Where can I get my child vaccinated?

Exact locations remain mostly unclear as of Oct. 28. Officials said the state had partnered with a number of museums, libraries and other community organizations. There are some listed on the state's website as already accepting appointments for children.

The state also allows you to search for appointments and providers here. Children's Hospital Colorado has already scheduled clinics beginning Nov. 5 and lasting every weekend through at least the end of November. Information on those clinics can be found here. 

Gov. Jared Polis said last week that large sites will play a prominent role in the initial phase of the rollout. But he and others emphasized the importance of primary care offices going forward, and every school district in the state has been offered the chance to participate. 

Will this affect my school district's masking or other policies?

Polis said that the introduction of the vaccine may alter local authorities' thinking about masking. Any order requiring masking or other COVID-19 measures in schools statewide has been enacted by local authorities, which would have the ability to change course. Denver Public Schools, which has a mask requirement, told the Gazette it would continue to listen to guidance from local experts.

Will pediatric vaccines be required in Colorado?

At least in the immediate term, it doesn't appear so. No such announcement has been made by the state. Though he was asked about a mandate, Polis didn't directly address it Thursday. He focused on the immediate rollout and efforts the state is taking to boost uptake.

What if my child is a small 5-year-old, or a big 11-year-old? Should they get the children's dose?

The dose is based on age and not weight, according to Brittany Kmush, an epidemiologist and professor at Syracuse University. "Vaccines are different than medication in the dosing strategy and it has more to do with the maturity of the immune system rather than weight or metabolism," she said.

If children are less likely to get seriously ill from COVID, why bother vaccinating them?

Pediatric vaccination is a public health tool to prevent infectious diseases, even ones that do not have high rates of mortality or hospitalization in children. Children in the United States already receive vaccines for illnesses that have similar or lower levels of related mortality in kids, like hepatitis A, chickenpox, rubella and rotavirus.